June 20th: Geoffrey

Father’s Day is ultimately about families.  It marks a day in which memory can play a big part, but it was a sobering experience in the rain today to hear from children to whom memory is the only way they can “enjoy” their father.  It isn’t our common mortality that has snatched their father away.  It is unjust laws, laws that would seem to violate other laws of two hundred years’ standing, those other laws we thought were sanctified by the thousands who poured out that last measure of devotion purely to safeguard this two-hundred-year heritage.  All that heritage violated by the sharp knock at the door.

I fast today in memory.  Some of the memories I have are memories of my father, a history professor whose work often reminded me that history is always around us.  History isn’t in a cubby-hole over there.  We live history, each of us.  We cannot escape it.  Maybe our own American history will always be an agon, an agon in which the urge to expand community will always contend with the urge to shrink community.  I often find that a depressing thought.

What was especially painful in the Children’s Vigil today was to recall what the mindless urge to shrink community may do to Roxroy’s children.  There they were today with their father, all of them often smiling.  Did it cross their minds — well, it crossed mine — that this could be the last Father’s Day they have together?  Something so ordinary suddenly becoming so precious.  The last cup of coffee brought to their father on a Saturday spent outdoors.  The last time they make signs together.  The last time they live anything outside their daily routine together.

Hate attacks the ordinary.  That is what hate does in the ’96 legislation.  It deprives Americans — child citizens — of the ordinary.  Is there only one way, then, for us to prize the ordinary as precious too?  Must that one way be deprivation of the normal?  Can nothing be held precious precisely because it is normal?  Isn’t that a saner way?  To hold something precious because we can have it every day?  We thought — many of us — that we had the Constitution and the Bill of Rights every day.  Did that make them less precious?

I know, I may be falling into something a little too close to despair.  Is it just because I’m hungry? 🙂  Not all these thoughts are draining, though.  Memory can also bring up things that keep us going.  My father would often say, when I’d get too serious, “The purpose of life is to have fun.”  Well, right now, today, Roxroy and his children seemed to have fun.  The excitement, talking to the crowd as a family, valuing the help of strangers, as Roxroy reminded us as we were getting ready to go — all this was fun.  And, as much as this may sound like a cliche, it was living in the Now.  So I’m grateful for this day.  And even though I may be grateful for this day because of the real likelihood that there will never be another like it again, I hope I can be just as grateful for it if we end up celebrating another just like it next year.


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